‘Governments have no right to cut patients off from information’

Citizens must not be excluded from access to information on such critical issues as health by their own governments, argues MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, member of the High Level Pharmaceutical Forum (HLPF).

The first High Level Pharmaceutical Forum (HLPF), set up to tackle issues hampering pharmaceutical innovation in Europe, will take place on 29 September 2006. The key issues under discussion are pricing and reimbursement of drugs, information to patients on new drugs and the innovation cost and relative effectiveness of medicines. 

In an interview with EURACTIV, MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, one of the Parliament’s three representatives in the the HLPF, talks about the Forum’s work. He finds the current information ban on medicines unacceptable. “I can understand a ban on advertisements but I can not agree on the ban on information, which leads us to a situation where patients are obliged to surf around the internet to look for information on medicines. Citizens can not be deprived of information by their own governments on such crucial issues as one’s health,” he argued.

When asked whether he thought the Forum was tackling the right issues to solve the competitiveness problem of the EU pharma industry, MEP Chatzimarkakis said the issues tackled are indeed “expected to give a new impetus to the sector”. 

“In no other market, even agriculture, the state decides on prices, as it does for the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, in the EU, new medicines are forced on to the market at low prices, but blockbusters have high prices – which is totally illogical. With the current conditions, we can not ask the European pharmaceutical industry for competitiveness. The system does not work, the companies and industry are leaving Europe because of these market barriers.”

To read the full interview with MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkaksis, click here.

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